Exhibit A is a snappy-looking mini-projector that works with iPods etc. I have not used and so am not endorsing it, but it illustrates the point I will present below:http://www.phonesuit.com/products/MiLi_Pro_iPhone_iPod_Video_Projector-18-10.html
My point is, simply, that modern technology is making most, if not all, of the institutional infrastructure formerly necessary to conduct a typical college course obsolete. The new generation of presentation technology, designed mainly for corporate/marketing-type uses, is also ideally suited to empower the individual lecturer to give any class, anywhere, with no need of recourse to deans, colleagues, computer (non)service departments, AV offices, copier (non)services, libraries, or even an official classroom on campus.
With your AV/slideshows/audio/whatever portable on a laptop or smartphone, even local wireless access is optional as a desideratum for presenting a class. At least, if you had to ensure you had it, a phone network (e.g. iPhone) could get it anywhere you needed it.
The only other tools one needs are a courseware web page, and library resources. Distance education has enabled the latter with collegiate library databases, such as the excellent OhioLink one; but even people not enrolled in academic programs can subscribe to Questia (I have not used it, but it appears to be at least a functional substitute for access to scholarly journals and ebooks online). And if we throw in Google Scholar, well, as we used to say in eastern Penna: fuggedaboutit.
As to the courseware page, a freelance lecturer can manage that too; for less than $200/yr, such pages can be done with open-source Moodle or a similar product, and hosted on one's personal account on servers which cater to our trade. Never mind Youtube, iTunes U, etc.
Adjunct faculty and freeway fliers have long (and justly) bemoaned the lack of proper infrastructure and staff support for teaching their courses (complaints which most tenured full-time faculty could make also). The old model of a medieval scholar like Abelard touring from town to town and presenting lectures in churches or other community space for anyone who would pay seemed untranslatable to the modern world. But translated, it now has been.
Here's a question: if I and my students (being anyone in the world who feels like signing up for my course, from any net-enabled location) can do presentations, lectures, discussions, writing assignments, etc.--and have access to the world's libraries while doing it--then what exactly do the students need to pay colleges and universities for? Accreditation and the awarding of degrees appears to be the only bonus provided by institutional affiliation in this edutopia of the already-here-future. But if accreditation is based on faculty qualifications--and in spite of recent fads in accreditation, that will remain the key criterion--why can't we work on something like the model of accredited music teachers, who can give private courses which count towards whatever state/regional accreditation is necessary for a given program--even teacher preparation? The only other necessity is collecting fees from the students--but Abelard didn't need a registrar for that.
The possibility here is both for freelancers, and for united groups of faculty (think United Artists), to simply take the majority of courses taught in higher education back from the institutions which are no longer needed to host or support them. (They mostly weren't doing a great job of it anyway.)
Granted, this model is not ideal for the 18-22-year-old set, who need campus community and supervision to deal with the academic project and the life-stages that accompany it in those years. So, that limits us to students of non-traditional age.
But, since 5 out of 6 Americans enrolled in a college course is now a non-trad---I think we may be in business.
I will be interested to hear what you think; please comment here if you would. I am experimentally extending my own web presence in the ways outlined above, but we should not let the technical details distract us from what I see as the meta-issue here. Higher education is increasingly outsourcing the faculty, and the primary teaching mission, and we (the profession) have bewailed and bemoaned this for decades. But what if we were to view this as an advantage, even a gift--and just take our ball and run away with it?